FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA – Esma Redžepova-Teodosievska was a vocalist, songwriter, and humanitarian of Romani ethnicity. Because of her prolific repertoire, which includes hundreds of songs, and because of her contribution to Roma culture and its promotion, she was nicknamed Queen of the Gypsies.
She started to sing while she was a teenager in the 1950s, and her career spans over five decades. Her musical success was closely linked to her marriage with Stevo Teodosievski, who was a composer, arranger and director of a musical ensemble, the Ansambl Teodosievski. He wrote many of her songs and fully managed her career until his death in 1997. Her musical style was mostly inspired by traditional Roma and (FYR) Macedonian music. Some other influences are also noticeable, such as pop music. Esma Redžepova started her career at a period when Romani music was very denigrated in Yugoslavia and Roma people considered it shameful for women to sing in public. Redžepova was one of the first singers to sing in Romani language on radio and television.
Redžepova was particularly noted for her powerful and emotional voice. In 2010, she was cited among the 50 great voices in the world by NPR, a prominent American media organisation. Redžepova was also noted for her extravagant attires and her turbans, as well as the use she makes of typical stereotypes about Roma women, such as sensuality and happiness. In 2010, she was awarded the national Order of Merit, and she was entitled National Artist of the Republic in 2013 by the President, Gjorgje Ivanov.
With her late husband Stevo Teodosievski she fostered 47 children, and received numerous accolades for her humanitarian work. She supports Roma and women rights and was also involved in local politics in her hometown, Skopje.
Redžepova, together with Vlatko Lozanoski, represented FYR Macedonia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö, Sweden.
Jon Ola Sand stated on Twitter: Sad to learn about the passing of Esma Redžepova, who participated in @Eurovision 2013. Our condolences to her loved ones and fans